Through the North Atlantic
Next DepartureMay. 28, 2024
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, Boat, Bus Excursion, Kayaking, Lectures, Photography, Tastings, Trekking, Wildlife observations, Zodiac
There are few wilder, more magnificent and untouched places than the islands of the North Atlantic! And no ships more suited than Ocean Albatros for such a voyage. On this adventure, we cover wondrous islands in Scotland, the Faeroe Islands, and Iceland.
Cruising from Scotland to the lush green islands of Orkney, Shetland, The Faroes, and Iceland, this 9-day spring adventure rewards us with fair-lighted days and matchless landscapes and seascapes. Migrating birds, dolphins, and whales are only some of the sights we expect in this cruise.
Our journey begins on the Scottish East Coast in Aberdeen, where we embark on Albatros Expeditions’ modern vessel the Ocean Albatros, our home for the next 9 days.
Our first stop is Kirkwall, the fascinating capital of Orkney, an archipelago known for its sandstone cliffs and Neolithic cities. Next up is the Shetland islands, with the cozy town Lerwick and later a stop at the isle of Noss with its many varied bird species. We sail further north to the Faroe Islands, where Tórshavn, its capital and largest town, awaits us. We follow the Faroe Islands rugged coasts further and make a call at Klaksvik, which allows us to explore these pristine islands even more. After these days full of culture, history, whiskies, and bird life, it’s time to head out on The North Atlantic sea and scout for whales and wildlife. After a quick stop at Djúpivogur, a small town and municipality located on a peninsula in the Austurland region in eastern Iceland, we will approach the Westman island of Surtsey, a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site and youngest island in the world, and spend an exciting day in Heimaey, the largest island of the archipelago, before arriving to our destination, Icelands capital: Reykjavík.
Facts about Through the North Atlantic
Embarkation in Aberdeen
Our journey begins in Aberdeen in North East Scotland, where MV Ocean Albatros is moored. Boarding is in the afternoon, where the staterooms are designated. After the mandatory security review and drill, we sail out on the North Sea.
Orkney Islands. Historic Kirkwall, green energy, distilleries and norse heritage. Optional excursion: Highlights of Orkney
During the night we will have sailed out into the waters between Outer and Inner Hebrides, and in the early morning we’ll reach the town of Kirkwall on the windy Orkney off the mainland of Scotland. Orkney is old Norse for the "seal islands", and, like the other North Atlantic islands, Orkney has a rich Viking story.
Kirkwall is the capital of Orkney. Orkney has a fascinating history, and contains one of the highest concentrations of Stone-Age remains anywhere in the world, preserved in the islands' softly blowing sand. These sites range from the dramatic stone circle of Brodgar to the touchingly intimate Neolithic houses of Skara Brae, preserved so perfectly they could almost still be inhabited. Unlike the Scottish mainland, Orkney and nearby Shetland were colonised by Norse settlers, and were a part of the Kingdom of Norway until the late 1400s; the islands' language, culture and architecture is subsequently distinct to the rest of Scotland. Locals are proud of their Nordic heritage, which is evident almost everywhere you go in the city, from the magnificent St Magnus' Cathedral (the founding of which is detailed in bloody sagas; it is also one of the only churches in the world to have its own dungeon), to street names, to the world-renowned Highland Park distillery. More recently, the islands were of huge military importance to the British state, and an entire German fleet lies scuttled at the bottom of Scapa Flow, just outside the city. The barricades between several of the islands were conducted after a daring U-Boat raid in the Second World War; along with the magnificent Italian Chapel (built by prisoners of war) bear testament to the islands' intricate history.
Today, the islands have again reinvented themselves; visitors are warmly welcomed, and the bustling port is littered with equipment and parts devoted to tidal and wind energy, as Orkney seeks to capitalise on its abundant green energy.
For those who participate in the optional excursion: “Highlights of Orkney”:
We depart Kirkwall and head into the west of Mainland, Orkney’s largest island. Along the way we will pass through rolling gentle landscapes into the Neolithic Heartland of Orkney, an area designated as a World Heritage Site due to its wealth of pre-historic archaeology. Passing the Standing Stones of Stenness, we will stop at the 5000-year-old ceremonial circle: the Ring of Brodgar.
We continue to the pretty fishing village of Stromness. After a briefing and orientation enjoy free time to explore the picturesque harbour in Stromness and stroll along the quirky flag-stoned streets. Maybe visit the beautifully refurbished Pier Arts Centre with exhibitions by both local and international artists and relax with a hot beverage in a café or explore the craft shops selling local knitwear, pottery and art work.
Finally we return to the coach and continue our circular route following the coastline of Scapa Flow, a famous British Naval Base in both World Wars.
(The excursion is part of the optional excursion package and not included in the price of the trip).
For guests wishing to stay in Kirkwall, a short walking city tour will be arranged, passing by St. Magnus cathedral as well as the picturesque ruins from Bishop's and Earl's Palace.
Shetland Islands, Scotland. Lerwick: Iron age dwellings, peat fuel and quaint fishing villages. Optional excursion to Clickimin Broch. Birdwatching at the Isle of Noss.
We are set to approach Lerwick near the "Main Land" of the Shetlands in the morning. The Shetland Islands consist of more than 100 islands, of which only 15 are inhabited year-round. The islands form the northernmost part of the United Kingdom, located approximately 300 km north of the mainland of Scotland.
For those who are on the optional excursion: "Clickimin Broch and Shetland sightseeing"
Once securely docked at the port, we depart through Lerwick towards Scalloway for a short scenic drive. From the elevated position we can enjoy the view of the charming village and the imposing Scalloway Castle. After a short photo stop, we continue eastwards through the area that is locally known as the “Black Gates” – an area where peat is still cut and used as fuel.
Following the road northwards, our main destination of Clickimin Broch is only a short drive. There will be free time to discover this well preserved and restored Broch and learn more about life in the Iron Age.
(Please note: The coach excursion is part of the optional excursion package and is not included in the price of the trip).
Afterwards, we will return to Lerwick and after some time at leisure in the port town, we reboard around lunchtime.
As we finish our meal, our ship moves to the nearby Isle of Noss, where we will encounter many bird colonies. Depending on the weather we hope to make either a Zodiac cruise or a landing with a smaller hike on the island.
Faroe Islands. Explore the capital of Torshavn. Optional excursion to historical Kirkjubøur.
We arrive after lunch at Tórshavn, possibly the smallest capital in the world, ruling the scattered 18 islands that make up the Faroes. Centred around the charming grass-roofed Parliament on Tinganes, Tórshavn is now an almost bustling modern city with shops, cafés and even three traffic lights!
For those who are on the optional excursion: Historical Kirkjubøur and sightseeing
By mid-morning you can participate in an optional bus excursion where we will try to look a bit back in history. We drive out of the capital and over the mountains to the south. As the climate on the Faroe Islands is ‘stably unstable’ it is not unlikely that we will drive through the cloud base and experience some fog on the way. But if you wait a moment, it also not unlikely that it will clear up. We arrive in Kirkjubøur, the most important historical site on the islands. Kirkjubøur was in medieval times the Episcopal centre of the Faroe Islands, and also its undisputed cultural centre. We visit the ruins of the impressive Magnus Cathedral that perhaps never was completed, and the St. Olav church – the only remaining medieval church on the Faroe Islands.
(The excursion is part of the excursion package and is not included in the price of the trip).
Upon our return to ‘Havn’ – as Tórshavn is often just called – you can go for a leisurely stroll through the old citadel near the harbour. A visit to the Art museum and the Nordic House is also very recommendable. With its around 18000 inhabitants it is the island nations largest. Torshavn is a wonderful mix of modern metropole and thousand year old traditions. The vast history is particularly visible in the old quarters of Tinganes, with its beautiful buildings with grass covered roofs and cobbled streets.
Faroe Islands. Small fishing town of Klaksvik. Optional excursion to Eysturoy island
During the morning we will have arrived to the little port of Klaksvik on the island of Bordoy, located on the eastern side of the island nation. The town is the second largest (4800 inhabitants) in the Faroes, with history dating back to Viking times. The port supports the fishing industry which still sets its mark on the town. We will be able to witness the atmosphere and the small open-deck boats as we dock.
For those who are on the optional excursion: Explore Eysturoy with Gjogv
By mid-morning you can participate in an optional bus excursion where we explore the nearby Eysturoy with its wonderful nature, high peaks and wildlife. We depart by coach through a tunnel that connects Bordoy and Eysturoy, and afterwards we pass along the long Skalafjord. This leads us to the small harbour village, Gjogv, where we explore the area and maybe even walk the gorge that has given the village its name. We will have time to take some photos where some of the famous rock formations and cliffs are visible along our way. All in all, this roundtrip gets us some insights of the Faroese lifestyle and the truly spectacular natural beauty that the islands hold. An excursion that lets us test the famous tagline for the country: Unspoiled, Unexplored, Unbelievable.
(The excursion is part of the excursion package and not included in the price of the trip).
Around lunchtime we leave Klaksvik and continue our North Sea adventure towards Iceland.
On the sea towards the Djúpivogur, looking for seabirds, dolphins and whales
Listen to a lecture from our experienced expedition staff, see a film about nature, or go out on deck to catch glimpses of migrating birds and hopefully some whales.
Iceland. Zodiac landing at enchanting Djúpivogur. Optional excursion to Vatnajökull, the largest icecap in Europe.
In the morning we will make a call in the small, cozy port town of Djúpivogur.
Located in East Iceland in the Berufjordur fjord, Djúpivogur is an enchanting village of just 456 inhabitants, standing beneath the dramatic Mount Búlandstindur, which reaches 3,510’ (1,069 m). Characterized by its calm lagoons, tranquil harbour, and flourishing bird population, particularly in the Búlandsnes Bird Sanctuary, the area allows visitors to enjoy an undisturbed natural paradise. The town is sheltered, but still very accessable from the ocean, the port is one of the oldest in Iceland, and the people from Djúpivogur take great pride in preserving some of the old houses. The town attracts creative folks and the art exhibitions are worth a visit, not least the permant Eggin i Gleðivík, 34 oversized bird eggs, carved out of granite. The artwork can be reached with a short stroll from the town centre. The Cultural Centre is located in the beautiful red timber house, Langabúð, and opposite this on the other side of the small harbor is the old Hotel Framtid. Residents have embraced a slower way of life which we can hope to enjoy whilst visiting.
For those who are on the optional excursion: Vatnajökull the largest icecap in Europe
We drive in our coach from Djupivogur to the “lobster” town of Höfn where we make a short break after the first 60 minutes of driving. Our next stop is the breathtaking Hoffelslón lagoon at the largest glacier in Europe (Vatnajökull), taking good time to take a walk on the glacial moraine and enjoy the unique nature. The glacier covers around 8% of Icelands total land mass. After the visit we return towards Djupivogur, with some photo stops enroute.
(The excursion is part of the excursion package and is not included in the price of the trip).
After we embark our ship and continue, we sail along the southern coast of Iceland, dominated by Vatnajökull, Iceland's largest glacier.
Westman islands, Surtsey and UNESCO natural heritage sites and city walk in Heimaey
The Westman Islands were on the headlines of the world press in January 1973, when a volcano erupted in the Heimaey island. All 5,000 inhabitants evacuated, but most have now returned, and today the population is about 4,000. The Westman Islands are only 14 kilometres off the southwest coast of Iceland and consist of 15 green small islands and about 30 moorings.
When you go sailing, you can see the islands' steep and grateful profiles in clear weather from a long distance. They are beautifully raised by the sea, and looking at them, one understands why an Icelandic poet would compare them with the sapphires in a silver ring.
The birdlife on these edges is unique and hosts, among other natural beauties, puffins and not least the "Queen of the Sea" - the gannet.
In the morning we head to Heimaey, the only inhabited island in the archipelago where we can see the recently excavated houses from the 1973 eruption.
We end the day by passing close to one of the world's newest islands, Surtsey. The island rose from the sea in 1963 and arrived in 2008 on UNESCO's list of world natural heritage sites. The island is closed to the public and only researchers are allowed.
Reykjavik and disembarkation
In the morning, Ocean Albatros goes alongside in the port of Reykjavik. It’s time to say farewell to the crew and begin the disembarkation.
- 9-day/8-night cruise on Ocean Albatros in a shared outside double room with a private bathroom in the category chosen
- English-speaking expedition staff
- Near-port walks with the expedition team
- Zodiac landings
- Information briefings and lectures by the expedition team
- Special photo workshop
- Full board on the ship
- Dinner drink package
- Free coffee, tea, and afternoon snacks on the ship
- Welcome and farewell cocktails
- Taxes, tariffs, and landing fees
- Digital visual journal link after the voyage, including voyage log, gallery, species list, and more
- International flights
- Extra excursions and activities not mentioned in the itinerary
- Single room supplement and cabin upgrades
- Meals not on board the ship
- Beverages (other than coffee and tea and dinner-drink package)
- Tips for the crew (we recommend USD 14 per person per day)
- Personal expenses
- Transfer to/from the ship
- Travel, cancellation, and senior insurance
- Anything not mentioned under ’Inclusions’
- Orkney Islands and Historic Kirkwall
- Shetland Islands. The Harbour And Fishing Village Of Lerwick
- Faroe Islands. Torshavn And The North Atlantic
- Faroe Islands, Klaksvik
- Zodiac Landing at Djúpivogur
- Westman Islands, Surtsey, and UNESCO Natural Heritage Sites, and City Walk In Heimaey
Please keep in mind, the itinerary and outdoor activities during each voyage are solely dependent on weather and operational conditions to ensure the safety and quality of experience of our guests. The route and shore landings will be determined by the captain and expedition leader and communicated to guests through regularly scheduled briefings. Albatros Expeditions reserves the right to modify the landings and locations visited during a voyage based on weather and local conditions and climate to ensure a safe and delightful experience for all our guests and staff. Our trips are expeditionary in nature, and thus changes to timings are common place due to the environment we operate in as well as wildlife opportunities and locations.